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How This Works

Arts & Culture Podcasts

A monthly rendezvous into a wide array of subjects with over 100 expert guests. Our second season is underway, offering even more captivating conversations on a plethora of subject matters. New episodes drop the last Tuesday each month — follow, subscribe, review, spread the word, join our exploration!


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A monthly rendezvous into a wide array of subjects with over 100 expert guests. Our second season is underway, offering even more captivating conversations on a plethora of subject matters. New episodes drop the last Tuesday each month — follow, subscribe, review, spread the word, join our exploration!




Jen Dary

Back in August, Skipper had a conversation with Jen Dary about her personal experiences and insights on leadership coaching, the importance of self-awareness and belief in one's abilities, Plucky's So Now You're a Manager (SNYaM), navigating the publishing industry, and prioritizing self-care in the coaching profession. Other topics include: Jen shares her experience as the oldest of three kids and how it influences her leadership style and ability to empathize with others (it might play it yours as well, dear listener) She highlights the importance of identifying a specific niche in coaching and how coaching is different from consulting Jen emphasizes the importance of setting a finite amount of time for coaching and encourages clients to come as long as they need and go when they're ready She primarily works with clients in technology, including engineers, designers, product managers, professors, academics, and doctors, with a majority of them being women Jen reflects on the importance of understanding one's purpose of work and encourages listeners to measure their current job against that purpose She talks more about So Now You're a Manager (SNYaM), a manager training program that she's developed at Plucky currently modeled after a part-time MBA plus, the importance of community and connection in learning, and the challenges of remote training Jen has observed a trend of people in the tech industry expressing a desire to retire earlier and wanting to "do their own thing" She talks about recently watching "The Andy Warhol Diaries," a six episode Netflix series, and having a greater understanding of the '70s and '80s Stay tuned until the end for an outtake around speaking French to a stranger on the train in front of her sons Special Guest: Jen Dary.


Jen Dary

Some text will go here, when it gets written about the show in greater detail than just the summary. Keywords and tags will get added. Show art and banner art will also be attached to the show. And the transcript too. If someone hasn't done it already, you'll need to attach the photo to their stub on the guest page. Their bio and any links should also be added there. Links to things that we talked about on the show will go just down there. Special Guest: Jen Dary.


Karen Faith

Karen's personal and professional journey exploring different forms of art, including classical music and site-specific contemporary performance art Empathy and storytelling in design, perspective taking, and understanding the difference between empathy and caring The struggle with showing empathy towards oneself and the importance of non-judgment The concept of being an "asshole" in social situations and intentional adjustment The unintended consequences of Karen's work on compassion and caring The virtue of patience and its role in creating oneness Practicing love and accepting all things without hierarchy or morality The idea of helpfulness versus rightness and an example of a deer The tagline for Others Unlimited and its focus on empathy, research, collaboration, and citizenship Exploring the relationship between mercy and justice The metaphor of polishing a rough gem and the importance of perspective-taking The importance of empathy, active listening, and being present Accepting others as they are and embracing the truth for personal growth The second season of FX's "The Bear" ( and the idea of watching television as a kind of babysitter A surprising answer from Karen to the question, "Imagine you unexpectedly had a day off, money was no object, you could bend the laws of space and time, what would you do?" Stay tuned for a bit of tape at the end where Karen and Skipper talk about one's "need to be right." Note from TED: Karen's talk linked below contains a discussion of suicidal ideation. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please consult a mental health professional and/or support organization, as this talk is not a substitute for mental health advice. If you are struggling with self-destructive or suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to connect with someone who can help. Special Guest: Karen Faith.


Zolt Levay

Zolt Levay is a photographer who has produced astronomical images from the Hubble Space Telescope and has spent a career describing the process of producing engaging color images from Hubble data. Now, he has his sights set on matters closer to home, working on more terrestial matters. During this conversation, Skipper and Zolt talk about how images are produced from the Hubble Space Telescope, the importance of being curious, how professional telescopes don't "see" in color, the size of 24 million soda straws, Ansel Adams, the notion of time travel, and his more recent hobby of astrophotography. Stay tuned until the end for a clip on how to pronounce Zolt's first and last name the Hungarian way. Special Guest: Zolt Levay.


Dr. Peter Chin-Hong

The last time we talked with Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, it was Dec 2020. Now, it's May 2022 — 17 months later. A lot has changed and in some ways it feels like nothing has changed. This time around, we get into current details around coronavirus/COVID, what's happening now/the current state, and what the future looks like. We recorded this episode over two sessions and along the way we get into many topics, including the notion of reinfections (more and more common with Omicron), how the testing numbers may not reflect actual cases with more and more home testing (and some people not testing at all), how an at-home test is different than a PCR test, and the current slate of variants — BA.1, BA.2, BA2.12.1, BA.4, BA.5, XE, etc. We also touch on COVID therapies including Paxlovid, an oral antiviral treatment, and Evusheld, monoclonal antibodies. As well, we talked about some of what Dr. Chin-Hong is concerned about in the future — including avian flu and influenza along with the idea that diseases like valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) have been creeping up over the last few years because we as humans are settling into areas (more rural, for instance) that large groups of us haven't been before. And then, we end the show by talking about his work as a professor of medicine and educator at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) — what teaching medicine has looked like the last few years with students (and teachers) as little blobs on a screen. Stay tuned until the end of the episode for a longer bit about the flu that didn't really have a place anywhere else. Special Guest: Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.


Skipper Chong Warson

Recorded in their child's bedroom on a weekday, Laura and Skipper chat about his academic background in writing (English literature, playwriting) as well as his professional background as a product design director (think desktop and mobile apps among other mediums) and how that plays into storytelling, most recently resulting in the creation of How This Works, this podcast. They also talk about their life together — newsflash: they're married and living in the San Francisco Bay area, having moved from New York City a couple of years ago. Along the way, they get into some of the differences between life in SF and NYC. They also talk about their upcoming wedding anniversary after getting married next to Jane's Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Along with talk about his name change from Starr to Skipper (and not Optimus Prime) at the age of seven, they bring in a few questions posed from the listening audience including lessons learned from the first season of the show, calling people the name they want to be called, how crucial listening is in making a podcast, the ubiquity of imposter syndrome, using the five (5) whys to get to the root cause of a challenge as developed by Sakichi Toyoda at the Toyota Motor Corporation, team falling asleep during movies versus team staying awake during movies, and why Skipper color codes versus alphabetizing the books in his background — see photo below. View of the three shelves behind Skipper's standing desk Laura and Skipper also reference the following previous episodes, in order of being published, including: * Jack Kahana (, the first episode * Dr. Peter Chin-Hong (, the third episode * Selena Rosanbalm (, the sixth episode * Cassandra Carlopio (, the 15th episode * Kat Hantas and Nicole Emanuel from 21Seeds (, the 17th episode * Sally McRae (, the 18th episode * Piper Payne (, the 20th episode Stay tuned after the outro music for a bit of tape where Skipper pauses for a bit of background noise and how from where Laura's sitting, the microphone makes it looks like his nose is a black bit of foam. Special Guest: Skipper Chong Warson.


Call for questions

Tomorrow, we're recording the last episode of the first season where we turn the tables and Skipper's wife Laura asks him the questions. Go to Instagram @howthisworksshow ( to reply directly to the story or email us at ( Thanks so much!


Sarah Sudhoff

Skipper talks to Sarah Sudhoff about how she works as an artist, her background as a photographer, arts administrator, and photo editor — and how all of that plays into her work today. Recorded late on a Sunday night, Skipper and Sarah talk about her identity as being half Cuban, how she got her first camera in the fifth grade, how being in a military family influenced her world and personality at a young age, being both the science nerd and the jock, and how she studied astronomy in college before she decided to pursue photography as her bachelor's degree — though she'd really like to work with NASA still. Following that, she worked for Citysearch before landing at Time magazine and received a M.F.A. in Photography from Parsons School of Design in New York. We get into how she wears many hats as an artist, how she multi-tasks as a single parent in her home life, how she collaborates in her work with others, and the necessary resilience of applying for as well as receiving/being rejected for exhibitions, grants, endowments, and fellowships. She and Skipper also talk about the notion of making daunting life decisions at 19 versus 29 or 39. We also talk about several of her works in particular: Point of Origin (, her most recent El Recuerdo ( project which started as a response to Deborah Brown’s paintings ( but then evolved to be a tribute to her grandmother and Sarah's biracial heritage, The Reading Brain (, 60 Pounds of Pressure (, Will You Hug me Forever (, and her upcoming work Labor Pains. Video from El Recuerdo: Rope by Sarah Sudhoff Video from El Recuerdo: Water by Sarah Sudhoff Sarah says that she's finally feeling worthy to apply for a Guggenheim and MoMA this year — to which we say, Break a leg! When pressed, she talks about how art is hard and her advice for her two children if they wanted to go into some kind of artistic profession. Stay tuned for a bit after the outro music where after Skipper rambles on for a bit and Sarah asks simply, What's the question? Special Guest: Sarah Sudhoff.


Chris Landon (replay)

This episode originally played 16 Feb 2021. We'll be back in next week with a new episode with Sarah Sudhoff followed by the final episode of the season. This episode's subtitle should be, So many movies, so little time. We start in Chris' childhood where he describes sneaking into his parents' room to watch Hitchcock's "Psycho" around the age of five, making short films in high school with his friends including a zombie sequel to "Xanadu" (which became a cult college favorite), feeling underwater after "Another Day in Paradise", leaving Los Angeles (and writing) before beginning to approach his work "like a job", "Disturbia" as a mix of Hitchcock's "Rear Window" and a John Hughes movie, "Happy Death Day" and "Happy Death Day 2U" as mash-ups of "Groundhog Day" with horror tropes, writing his most recent movie "Freaky" with Michael Kennedy, working on the adaptation of "My Best Friend's Exorcism" by Grady Hendrix, and signing up to help reboot the "Paranormal Activity" franchise. But it's not just movies — though there are a ton of movies that we talk about — it's also about how all horror films aren't all about slash, blood, and gore. Chris talked about one of his aims to use the "genre as a Trojan horse" and how he's going to "smuggle much weightier themes inside of a movie that just looks cute and fun and scary", citing "Get Out". We also get into how 'best of' lists or a list of favorites can be problematic, how there are so many films to choose from. Chris also talks about how he discovered his authentic voice, not taking criticism personally, and focusing on being a better listener which has improved his life as a husband, a father, and made him infinitely happier with his solo and collaborative work. Stay tuned after the outro music to hear Skipper say, "I see" — which kicks off Siri and reaks some frustration. This is a good reminder that voice user interfaces (voice UI) are always listening. And we're talking about you — Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc. This episode was edited and mastered by Troy Lococo. Special Guest: Chris Landon.


Carl Welty (replay)

This episode originally played 9 Feb 2021. We'll be back in a few weeks with the last two episodes of our first season. In this episode, Carl talks to Skipper about his work as an architect, how the term sustainable design isn't good enough anymore, how linear perspective was developed in 1413, and his work on Banning Ranch Park and Preserve. Starting with being born in Roswell, New Mexico, living in Turkey, and then settling in California, their conversation gets into how sustainable design (the idea of using less) really needs to shift to the idea of regenerative design (works more like nature or generates energy), passive solar, how today's lumber is different than old-growth lumber, Formosan termites, building with cold form steel or light gauge steel, Filippo Brunelleschi, Albrecht Dürer, the Acjachemen in Orange County, and the history of the Banning Ranch site. Here are two examples from Carl's work — the top one's a concept from Banning Ranch and the bottom one's the Waterwise Community Center in Montclair, California. Stay tuned after the outro to hear Carl talk more about Chinese landscape painting. This episode was edited and mastered by Troy Lococo. Special Guest: Carl Welty.


Nova Stanley (replay)

This episode originally played 26 Jan 2021. We'll be back in a few weeks with the last two episodes of our first season. Nova Stanley is 17 — and we talk about his work as an artist, about his attending one of the top fine arts high schools in NYC during a pandemic, and his experience as a transgender male. Along the way, we get into so many topics — how Nova only snaps with his thumb and little/pinky finger (on both hands), how he comes from a family of artists and creators, getting inspiration from nature and his sisters (versus media and friends), how he's missing Brooklyn after his family temporarily relocated up-state, Soul (the Pixar movie), how he started working in digital media on his dad's computer, what remote school looks and feels like in one of the top fine arts schools in NYC, making a portfolio to apply to colleges, the impact of social media — even Instagram — on him, his exit from social media (mostly), his experience as a trans male, binge watching all 15 seasons of Criminal Minds, and his love of My Brother, My Brother and Me, a podcast by the McElroy Brothers. Since recording this episode, Nova has exited Instagram and Tumblr. Here are three views of the work pinned to the wall above Nova's desk, something he mentions during the show: Above_Novas_desk_01 Above_Novas_desk_02 Above_Novas_desk_03 Nova cites a statistic around how one out of every 200 people identify as trasngender. But upon digging into the actual article from the American Journal of Public Health ( (cited in the show notes), it turns out that they discovered in 2016 that the ratio was 390/100,000. And as a fraction, that works out to 0.0039. 1/200 is 0.005, fairly close. The article also posits that the fraction of the transgender population is going to rise as more people come out and transgender identities are normalized. Throughout the episode, we hear Nova's life as one full of interuptions and household goingson, including the family pets. Stay tuned for one of those bits after the outro music. This episode was edited and mastered by Troy Lococo. Special Guest: Nova Stanley.


Kacie Lett Gordon (replay)

This episode originally played 23 Feb 2021. We'll be back in a few weeks with a new episode. In today's show, Kacie Lett Gordon deconstructs the notion of having it all in our current times — she's working through that for herself with a number of other women on her podcast Fuck it All ( We start out by talking about being a bit nervous about being on a podcast as a guest and a podcast as a host, external and internal roles, the difference between honesty and authenticity, and how different people get their energy in different ways (she gets hers with alone time while her husband gets it from being around people). We reach into many topics during this show, including how Kacie's mom was and is a role model for her, being a mother herself, how while she felt like she theoretically had it all she felt miserable (probably as a result of late-onset postpartum depression), the double standard of calling a woman bossy versus praising a man for the same behavior, good coffee in contrast to easy coffee, the importance of the mug, the power of curiosity, and, in her words, where part of the narrative of being a woman is "if you don't dislike yourself a little bit, then you're not humble." There's a ton of books that we talk about — non-fiction and fiction. You can find those in the show notes. We also talk about a mutual friend Jen Dary and Manager Training from Plucky ( Stay tuned after the outro music to hear Kacie wonder, Who am I? This episode was edited and mastered by Troy Lococo. Special Guest: Kacie Lett Gordon.


Selena Rosanbalm (replay)

This episode originally played 5 Jan 2021. If you're wondering where we talk about mastering in the context of Piper Payne's episode (, you can find the question around, 'What is mastering?' around 27 minutes into the episode Having grown up with the idea that she wanted to perform and make music, Selena Rosanbalm talks with Skipper about being a musician and the work she’s done to write, record, release, and promote an independent album in 2020 with everything that's going on. The conversation has a wide swing, starting with her love of yacht rock (think Michael McDonald or Hall & Oates or the Doobie Bros), her fear of things underwater, her early thrill with performing "I Just Can't Wait to Be King" from The Lion King, the number system for calling the chords of the songs to everyone on-stage, how some musicians are still producing new cassette tapes, how being an independent musician is more work than it may seem (because not everyone's Bono), Black Sabbath's debut album done in one take (allegedly), how the name Rosie and the Ramblers came about, and how the cover art for Selena Rosanbalm started with a piece of photo equipment. Stay tuned after the outro music for a piece of tape where Skipper asks if Selena and the members of her backing band wear masks when performing. This episode was edited and mastered by Troy Lococo. Special Guest: Selena Rosanbalm.


Piper Payne

This week, Skipper chats with Piper Payne, an audio mastering engineer. Currently based in Nashville, Tennessee, Piper starts off the episode with her professional introduction and then tells us "who she actually" is, including her being originally a Midwesterner, having three dogs, being an Aries, and her love of cheeseburgers. We talk about how if she wasn't a mastering engineer, she might be in some form of construction or maybe a carpenter. We get into how she's a drummer, starting when she was a "shrimpy kid", her technical music studies at the University of Michigan and then her graduate work in Norway, and working under Bob Katz and Michael Romanowski. Then, Piper dives into how she calibrates her mastering console with sine tones and noise, how music is mastered from a high level, her growing up on young country, her love of top 40 pop music, how vinyl records are made (think waffles), how musicians get paid (in the past and more recently), and the potential of non-fungible tokens to help artists get paid for their work as well as keep better track and make decisions about their efforts to tour, promote, and construct release plans. We also talk about some of the assumptions that people have about being a mastering engineer, how it's not alchemy. Below is a snapshot of the record shelves Piper mentions on the show as something she built recently that she's proud of: Stay tuned after the outro music to hear Skipper work out the right way to introduce Piper as an audio mastering engineer or a mastering engineer. Special Guest: Piper Payne.


Delay of show

Our planned episode with Piper Payne ( will be delayed this week, that's the bad news; the good news is that it'll be available next week. Plus, Skipper talks about how it came about that we're talking to Piper — a mastering engineer (hint: Selena Rosanbalm ( — and previews the last two episodes of the season. The next new one will have Sarah Sudhoff and the last one with Skipper Chong Warson in the hot seat. Thanks for understanding, be safe, have a good week, and stayed tuned.


Kait Scalisi

This episode of How This Works addresses adult subject matters and contains adult language. This week, Skipper chats with Kait Scalisi, a certified sex educator who founded Passion by Kait. They engage in a wide-ranging conversation that explores so many areas — including shame, communication, and how pleasure is really powerful as a healing force. And there's so much under the surface as well, like how some people carry their disabilities in plain sight, the concept of accessible design, how she started doing this work, how with sex there's no such thing as "normal", a lightweight formula around how to talk about sex with your partner, her delight in the concept of verbal consent is showing up in romance novels, consent culture and the underlying sentiment to act first, apologize later, #notallmen, Resmaa Menakem on the notion of somatic abolitionism, and assumptions that Kait has had to work against as a sex educator. Stay tuned after the outro music for a pause for sirens in Kait's New York City sound background, an ever present aural reminder of the big city. Skipper misses it. Special Guest: Kait Scalisi.


Sally McRae

This week, Skipper chats with Sally McRae, a pro runner for Nike and NordicTrack among others. Based in Bend, Oregon, Sally starts off by talking about how she often gets mistaken for a bodybuilder, a cross fitter, and even a cage fighter. She also gets into many more details of her life, including growing up in a family of seven, playing soccer and starting to run because "she knew she had the speed" and then as a way to stay in shape and cross-train, running her first marathon, discovering ultrarunning, running Western States 100 in 2014 (as captured in the short film "Western Time" — linked below), the importance of crew in ultrarunning, and what she thinks is at the heart of the sentiment, "I'm not a runner, or I wasn't made for running, or running is stupid". We also talk about some of the assumptions that people have about being a pro runner, the power of the community around running and ultrarunning, how running long distances with people can get past the polite and light social conversations, dispelling the common thinking that Skipper's name came from Gilligan's Island, why running is painful, needing to take care of yourself first and foremost, how on a 100 mile race that you will stir up something deep, and how some of the events locally and in the world might mirror some darker moments in our lives. Stay tuned after the outro music to hear Sally's joy about relocating to the mountains with her family. Special Guest: Sally McRae.


Kat Hantas and Nicole Emanuel

Today's episode features a conversation with two sisters — Kat Hantas and Nicole Emanuel — about 21Seeds, their company that makes all-natural, infused tequila. They talk about what they did before starting the company — film work and corporate finance, respectively — when Kat's doctor instructed her to stop drinking fermented spirits like wine, beer, and sake to drink distilled spirits like blanco tequila instead. And after eight years of infusing tequila in her kitchen, Kat enlisted her sister Nicole and their friend, Sarika Singh, to start 21Seeds — the name comes from two friends + one girlfriend with things that are all-natural, that grow from a seed — with a distillery in the town of Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico run and staffed by women whose hours coincide with school schedules, so the moms don’t have to pay for childcare. The sisters talk about the three tiers set up by the tied-house rule, why they didn't name the company Casamigas (a play on Casamigos), chill filtration (and how it removes aldehydes), keeping the heart but leaving out the head and tail when distilling alcohol, how you can go blind from moonshine (depending on the how and who's making it), and the differences between flavored and infused liquor. This is an especially fun episode as both sisters keep it light while the conversation moves easily. Nicole and Kat debate which Constitutional amendment made alcohol illegal and which one repealed Prohibition, the dangers of home infusing tequila in a Brita, and how Oprah Winfrey — as a tequila fan and someone who infuses tequila herself — paid the product a high compliment in assuming it was freshly infused. Stay tuned after the outro music to hear Skipper trip all over over the pronunciation of Kat's last name. So you all know, Hantas is pronounced like Pocahontas or haunting. Special Guest: Kat Hantas and Nicole Emanuel.


Dr. Laura Sicola

This week, Skipper chats with Laura Sicola, a leadership communication and influence expert, speaker, author of "Speaking to Influence: Mastering Your Leadership Voice" (bookshop link (, a coach, and host of the podcast, "Speaking to Influence: Communication Secrets of the C-Suite" ( But this conversation isn't just for managers or people in the C-suite, it's for anyone who wants to hear yes a bit more in their lives. As Laura says, this subject matter is every bit as "relevant with your coworkers, boss, employee, colleague, client, vendor, or otherwise, as it is with people in your personal life. And it is — whether it's with your spouse, significant other, your children, your neighbors, your friends, and co parishioners at church, temple, mosque, wherever you go, or religious house". We talk about so many things, including her work sitting at the intersection of how language works — or what Laura refers to as the math of language — cognitive processing and language, and social filters; how non-native languages to young kids can feel like a superpower, how some people listen like others wait for the right moment to jump into a double dutch jump rope session, bosses versus leaders, manipulation versus influence, myth-busting one of the most misquoted statistic in communications research, how we all have a prismatic voice, and how authenticity is absolutely essential in how we use our voice. Stay tuned after the outro music for a quick levels check, a peek behind the scenes. Special Guest: Laura Sicola.


Cassandra Carlopio

Today's episode features time with Cassandra Carlopio, a meditation/sleep consultant currently collaborating with The Breathe Institute and trained as a clinical psychologist on the Gold Coast of Australia. We talk about the importance of sleep, address some of the falacies associated with meditation, and she graciously leads us through a short guided meditation. We also talk about how she loves the mountains and beach equally, her newfound love of kite boarding, about the role of the nervous system and sleep, about how there's very little communication "between the field of sleep medicine and the field of psychology and the field of meditation", in the role that meditation can play in helping people sleep at night, traffic in Los Angeles, the notion of using virtual reality to help with sleep issues, and how gifting someone with sleep issues "Why We Sleep" by Matthew Walker may not be the right kind of present. Stay tuned after the outro music to hear Skipper stumble through the pronunciation of Cassandra's name, something that he does with every guest on the show. Special Guest: Cassandra Carlopio.